FRUS­TRA­TIONS ON BUY­BACKS

Pa­roo Mayor calls for an­swers on wa­ter loss

Western Times - - FRONT PAGE - Michael Wray

PA­ROO Shire Mayor Lind­say God­frey has ac­cused the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment of cut­ting his shire out of sen­si­tive wa­ter buy­back ne­go­ti­a­tions and putting an­other nail in the cof­fin of the strug­gling re­gion.

Cr God­frey said he un­der­stood the re­gion, cen­tred around Cun­na­mulla, was set to lose a small amount of wa­ter from its al­lo­ca­tion but was as­tounded when he dis­cov­ered the gov­ern­ment was re­cov­er­ing nearly a third of its 62.1 gi­gal­itre en­ti­tle­ment in the War­rego River.

The pur­chase of the rights from pri­vate landown­ers means less wa­ter is avail­able for land ir­ri­ga­tion lo­cally.

A re­view of en­ti­tle­ments in the north­ern Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin has rec­om­mended ir­ri­ga­tors in the north­ern basin, which in­cludes large parts of Queens­land, return

320 gi­gal­itres to the com­mon­wealth.

“We are re­ally strug­gling and this is an­other nail in the cof­fin,” Mr God­frey said.

“We’ve got a small com­mu­nity that’s hav­ing a strug­gle to sur­vive, we’ve got the au­dit of­fice breath­ing down our neck as a shire about be­ing un­sus­tain­able, we’ve got a lot of costs in Cun­na­mulla and our rate base is quite small.”

Mara­noa MP David Lit­tleproud said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment had to fi­nalise the buy­backs by 2019 and was mak­ing the best of a bad sit­u­a­tion.

“In terms of the im­pacts, I have lived in a lot of these com­mu­ni­ties and I un­der­stand what the power of a me­gal­itre can do not just for the pri­mary pro­duc­ers but also for the small busi­nesses,” Mr Lit­tleproud said.

He said a will­ing seller in Cun­na­mulla had con­tacted the gov­ern­ment and ne­go­ti­ated di­rectly with the depart­ment.

“The lo­cal gov­ern­ment does not have the re­mit over wa­ter re­sources, which is why they weren’t con­sulted, but they were ad­vised of the pur­chase prior to any press re­leases and I had that con­ver­sa­tion per­son­ally,” he said.

PHOTO: LACHIE MIL­LARD

BUY­BACK FRUS­TRA­TION: Cun­na­mulla Mayor Lind­say God­frey on the banks of the town’s weir.

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